Our next three Essentials Records of the Month — which you’ll receive if you sign up for VMP Essentials in April, May and June 2022 — feature the exciting reissue of a R&B icon’s classic final album, a groundbreaking, foundational sophomore hip-hop release and the innovative debut from a French electronic duo.
April: Aaliyah’s Aaliyah
Our Essentials Record of the Month in April is Aaliyah, the self-titled third and final album from the R&B legend. Aaliyah is a living monument to not only the artist’s own personal growth and foray into adulthood, but to a sound that would come to define R&B and an entire era of popular culture at large, inflicting an incalculable influence on future generations of artists to come.
Our definitive reissue was half-speed mastered by Barry Grint at Alchemy Mastering at AIR and pressed on exclusive 2LP Red & Gold Galaxy vinyl. It comes with a new Listening Notes booklet by VMP Head of Editorial Amileah Sutliff and an art print by Jacob Rochester. Our version also contains "Try Again," a track that was not featured on the 2001 U.S. LP release.
We worked closely with Aaliyah’s label to present this indisputably classic album on vinyl, where it belongs as a classic of the R&B genre.
“It’s long been a dream for VMP to bring this remarkable record to our members,” Sutliff said. “Aaliyah is a true masterpiece from an artist who was unimaginably influential in her too-short time on earth, so it means the world to us to be able to honor her legacy and finally present a definitive vinyl reissue, created with the level of care this record truly deserves.”
May: A Tribe Called Quest’s The Low End Theory
In May, our Essentials Record of the Month is A Tribe Called Quest’s monumental 1991 sophomore album, The Low End Theory. Recorded shortly after their 1990 debut album, People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, the record expanded on and refined their jazz aesthetic, progressing and developing their sound to new heights.
Our reissue is the first-ever 2LP, 45 RPM release of The Low End Theory. It’s pressed on exclusive Green & Red vinyl, with lacquers cut by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound and plated at Welcome to 1979. It comes with a new Listening Notes booklet by VMP Hip-Hop Director Marcus J. Moore and an art print by Joe Grant.
“Many Tribe fans consider the band’s next album, 1993’s Midnight Marauders, to be its magnum opus. But you don’t arrive at the perfect nocturnal LP without first releasing a focused work like The Low End Theory, which winnowed the colorful expanse of People’s Instinctive Travels into a seamless listen,” writes Moore in the reissue’s Listening Notes booklet. “Tribe represented freedom, and some 30 years after The Low End Theory, it’s still a sonic marvel and one of the best hip-hop albums of all-time.”
The Low End Theory will be available for sign-ups on April 21.
June: Justice’s †
Finally, we’re rounding out our Spring 2022 Essentials lineup with our June Record of the Month: Justice’s †, the 15th-anniversary edition of the 2007 debut album from the influential French electronic music duo, consisting of Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay. (Fun fact! The record is technically self-titled. In written form, it’s stylized “†” but you can just say “Justice.”)
We worked in close collaboration with the label, Ed Banger Records, to bring you this reissue. The record is pressed on 2LP Gold Nugget vinyl, with lacquers cut at 45 RPM by Graeme Durham at The Exchange. It comes with a new Listening Notes booklet by DJ and producer Erol Alkan, and an art print by Cesar Sebastian.
“This record will evoke memories for any of you who lived through this point in time. If we shared time in a club together, then some of us had sweat rain on us, or maybe we just connected from a distance,” writes Alkan in the album’s Listening Notes booklet. “But there is also a chance that you may be holding this record in your hands for the first time. Perhaps you’ve discovered it in your parents’ or older siblings’ record collection. I assume it’s left its mark on them, too, as it has on us. No matter how it has arrived on your record player, just make sure you play it LOUD.”
† will be available for sign-ups on May 19.